Here they are –  

 preparing to enter –  

We were guests at the St Louis Adult Rehabilitation Center on Forest Park  Avenue.  The St Louis ARC is one of a hundred ARCs operated by The Salvation Army throughout the USA.  ARC specializes in a program for men and women dealing with substance abuse/addictive behaviors. 

I failed to get a picture during the morning worship.  Major Katrina Mathews directing the choir.  One of the leaders in an astonishing leap out of his pew to worship.  A graduate’s earnest words on completing the 180 day ARC program.  His mother’s testimony, that she sees something very different in her son; he’s been transformed.

At lunch we debrief.  Wrap up other business.  And then return to Benton Park West to tag team our one mower as we cut our lawns.  From the house at Wyoming to the California house and then to ours at 2708 Arsenal.  Texas house will get done later this week.  After I finish, I push the mower back to the basement at the Temple Corps.

 Early this morning I cleaned up a little in the alley.  Someone else’s mess. Rooting up crab grass growing between the paving bricks.

Sara tells us that being a good neighbor means giving attention to these kinds of things.  

Being a good neighbor also means unplanned-for time and energy away from planned-for matters of our personal/individual/private lives.

We talked about this quite a bit yesterday.

We live lives where things are tidy, on time, arranged in an economy of things fitting into an orderly and neat life.  We do have jobs, school, commitments.

We also walk down the street, on our way to the next thing on our agenda, but stop to make time for someone, a neighbor, a person who may be in need.

We are learning to live our lives in the tension between both.

We are learning when to be on time or when to make time.

One last thought.  If we choose to make time, it’s a creative action.  The appearance of time comes in the Genesis account of creation.  There is a sun and moon.  Seasons.  And the Genesis narrator’s voice says there was evening.  There was morning.  The first day. (Genesis 1:5) 


“We can live in our neighborhoods but never live life in them.”

Jon Huckins described this to be the North American urban experience.

We don’t want that to be our experience.

Thinking of Jon, I took a look at my notes from when Jon was with us in the middle of March.

Here is what I wrote for his presentation on the six postures to live God’s mission in our neighborhood.

The Six Postures

listening (communion, community, context). Allowing us to hear what God is directing us regarding the mission. Carthusian monks: silence. Practices? prayer walks. times of silence. conversations with residents. study history or our place. learn about all dimensions of the neighborhood (faiths, parks, stories, to other churches, etc). Two questions: What interrupts your ability to listen? What is listening one experiment or practice?

submerging, able to dive into the real issues of our neighborhood. Down, deep below our surface perceptions, into the realities. from dabbling, to being present. Six submerging practices: practicing presence; stop spending so much time at church (esp. church leaders); identify the assets in your neighborhood; connect with influencers; submerge into areas of brokenness; contend for the broken to the point of restoration.

Questions: what interrupts your ability to submerge … what is one practice/experiment?

inviting, in the context of Jesus’ invitation to repentance and the kingdom; radical hospitality-invitation, into the shared life of Jesus, discipleship, into a realignment into the values/way of life. 2-way invitation: there is a mutuality to invitation meaning we are inviting and also being invited. What interrupts …. what is one inviting practice/experiment?
contending, actions for healing broken systems, people, realities. Notice, this comes after listening, submerging, and inviting. Matters of justice, per OT, Luke. John 4 Jesus with the Samaritan woman.. The Good Samaritan, Luke 15. Covenant forms the strong foundation in which contending can take place. Contending, as what can be done to stand up for the dignity of the other, as in the story of Lola, one-toothed woman in the wheelchair. What interrupts … practice/experiment?      
imagining helps us to remember that we are part of a narrative of hope, new creation, and choosing this narrative rather than one of fear. Moses story. acquiring new eyes for our neighborhood. Jon’s neighborhood street fair which made his neighbors’ eyes open wide realizing what can be.

entrusting. ‘so send I you’. a distinction between “retaining” and entrusting.  

  El Bronco on Cherokee Street.  Chips, salsa and more talking about life in Benton Park West for those of us who have become the newest Temple House dwellers.
I order the steak tacos.  Small soft corn tortillas doubled to hold the steak bits garnished with radish slice, cilantro and chopped onion.  Drizzled with juice from a thick lime wedge.  It has become my recent go-to on the El Bronco menu.  With rice and beans?  $6.95.  Beats Wendy’s chicken sandwich.

We sit and talk about life in our neighborhood.  How to be good neighbors.  How to watch for the occasional dangers.  

Sara led us in an exercise of identifying ten ways to be good neighbors.  We reference Jon Huckins’ Thin Places which we studied last year.  Jon also came to St Louis earlier this year to teach on this subject, and how a community can be formed which supports those who enter into the mission of God, missio Dei, in the world.  

For us in Temple Houses it is the urban world known as St Louis.  And a time which is now the Urban Millennium.  The first time in which the majority of human beings in the history of the world live in urban places.
For us, how to begin?


Into the places, rhythms, life of our city’s neighborhood.


  Sauce on the Side packs a good deal into its meals.  Affordable, generous serving, a great new location, and, of course, a variety of calzones without parallel.  I had my latest favorite:  the Costanza.  I like the eggplant.
Now we are putting our shoes back on and heading over to the Wyoming house to meet everyone for a walk to Cherokee Street.

As part of our TH retreat we are exploring the business district for our neighborhood.  Part of helping to learn the neighborhood.

Gail is urging me out of the door.


On the way downtown because we are done with 1875 St Louis at the Missouri History Museum which is one worthwhile place to see.  And free.  

Unlike other cities where accessibility is an issue.  Accessibility based on $$.  Chicago comes to mind.

I was talking with Steve about this matter of acessibility.  Steve calls St Louis a poor person’s city, but he means it in the sense that so many of the beauties of city such as a museum are at no charge.  That’s accessibility. 

Lunch time.  

Here we are, at least those of us able to spend this day as an urban retreat:  

I snapped the picture just before we loaded up in the minivan.  It is Saturday morning and the weather is remarkable.  Sunny, cool breezes, today’s high in the low 70s.

We headed for Soulard.  But first:

John’s Donuts which I’ve eaten quite few over the years but this was my first actual visit. I ate two glazed donuts. Among some of the best I’ve eaten ANYWHERE

Next, shopping Soulard’s.  Cash only.  Three big California peaches which the lady shopping next to me gushed about.  A little bit of sugar, a little bit of Splenda, a little bit of sauteeing.  Don’t let them get brown.  Delicious.  She beamed.  The purveyor grinned.

Also, I got an ugly cantalope.  Which in my estimation tend to be the best tasting.  It hefted right and smelled right.  

Now, on our way to Forest Park and 1875 St Louis which is a fascinating exhibit.  Visit it and you begin to understand many of today’s dynamics in St Louis and our region.

I’ll post more about this later. 

 We started last night with chili dinner, teaching and sharing at Sara’s.  Our Temple Houses retreat in the city.  TH are in transition again as most of those who have been with us the last year or tow have transitioned on to new places.  Including three who are now in Chicago, training to become Salvation Army Officers.  

Our retreat is giving several new TH dwellers the chance to meet and learn about one another.  To talk and learn what we wll be doing as we train for missional living as a community in our St Louis urban setting.

Recently we took stock.  How many?  Almost thirty have been Temple House dwellers.  And now we start again.


  A little bit of lavender Betsy picked from Temple Gardens.

We said goodbye today at noon to John and Betsy who helped us move in this Labor Day weekend to Benton Park West.  Without them we couldn’t have done it.  Thanks, John and Betsy.

Several Temple House dwellers came over yesterday to welcome us with a meal.  Darren barbecued pork steaks and chicken.  We think he’s become kind of an expert at this.  Everyone pitched in and we had a great time of food and visiting.


Captain Mary Kim joined us for the evening. The Captain is identifying the table flowers from Temple Garden. Kamaria Gage finds something funny. Char Lopez finds something to ponder.

Why are we here on Arsenal Street?  Our convictions.  We have thought about this for some time, for decades.  But even with convictions and long considered thoughts there is uncertainty.  We fix our eyes on the will of God.  But out of the corner of the eye we catch a flit of movement.  There’s more there than what’s right in front of us.  I’ll write more.  Just not now.

Now?  Get settled in.  Get to know our neighbors better.   Listen and look.  And let our neighbors learn about us.


first morning on ArsenalJust a quick note this Saturday morning.

It’s now come to pass:  Gail and I are on Arsenal Street in St Louis’ Benton Park West.  With help from John and Betsy we moved a mattress and some personal belongings after work and were able to spend our first night here.

After moving I mentioned to Betsy that this would be the first time I’ve lived this close to a Salvation Army corps building.  From in front of our home I simply look to the west and can see St Louis Temple Corps.  I can see into the lobby.

This week Gail and I have moved some of our stuff each night.  We’ve also met and talked with neighbors on this block.  Marlo to the east.  The two men across the street who regularly sit talking at the pickup truck.

Today, more moving.  But we are here.

Okay, I’ve been cleaning up scads of email thus all these Intersection posts today.

Here’s another, this one from January while listening to jazz on one of my many Missouri road trips.

Listening to jazz, I think “urban music”.  It’s very angular.  Like the lines of a city’s buildings and streets.  Concentrated, like the density of buildings, structures.  Even cultures, how different cultures are packed into cities.  And because of that you’ve got to be compact.  You need to fit, to be able to squeeze everything in.  Yeah, rhythm allows it to all jiggle in.  Playful.  What is that Portuguese word used in Brazil for the skill to be able to make deals take place, jecinho?  My Portuguese dictionary is stashed in one of the book boxes waiting to move to 2708 Arsenal.

Miles Davis.  Here’s one of his coolest cuts courtesy of YouTube, Blue in green.

Hey.  Here’s a story of how one city has fared after a terrible disaster.

I could be but am not referring to Joplin MO or 9/11 New York City.  It’s New Orleans in Gary Rivlin’s new book Katrina:  After the Flood reviewed earlier this month by the NY Times.

Lance Hill, a white political activist serving as a mole, tells Rivlin: “It was impossible not to pick up on this sentiment that this was our chance to take back control of the city. There was virtually a near consensus among whites that authorities should not do anything to make it easy for poor African-Americans to come back.”

It looks worth a read.

In my work in post-2011 tornado Joplin it’s become clear that developers are not interested in replacing lost housing with affordable low cost rental units.  This is creating some problems.  Where do low-income households go?  They have doubled and tripled up in housing to be able to afford it.  Moved away.  Become homeless.

Sometimes when a city gets a hard knock, opportunity knocks for urban socio-economic engineering that makes life harder for the poor.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 887 other followers

%d bloggers like this: